Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions
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Is the Castle Wind Offshore needed?

With the passage of SB 100, coupled with a growing demand for electricity in the transportation sector, California will see a significant increase in demand for renewable energy after 2020. California will need between 15 to 25 GW of new renewable energy generation between now and 2030 and as much as twice that amount by 2050. Offshore wind is an abundant renewable energy resource with a high capacity factor and a production profile that is complementary to solar.  It can be built near demand centers and existing transmission infrastructure, offering valuable grid-management benefits and diversity of supply.

Is offshore wind energy cost competitive?

Over the last 30 years, the cost of energy from land-based wind farms has fallen dramatically as technology and construction methods have improved. These accomplishments lead to the reduction of wind energy cost that is now on par with other sources of energy generation.  Though offshore wind is new in the U.S., over

15,780 MW of offshore wind have been installed in Europe through the end of 2017.  The U.S. DOE estimates that offshore wind costs, like land-based wind costs, will decrease significantly by 2025.  Castle Winds Offshore energy prices are projected to be competitive in the California market by 2025 and thereafter.

What kind of local jobs will this project create?

The Castle Wind Offshore Project will require a ready workforce ranging from engineers, offshore construction personnel, technicians and tugboat operators to support project construction and operation.  The ultimate extent of the economic contribution of the Castle Wind Offshore project will be quantified as detailed project plans are developed.

How much of the project will be built and serviced locally?

Due to the size of the offshore wind components, fabrication of the floating offshore wind systems (FOWS) will take place at a ship building facility with adequate staging areas.  The final assembly of the FOWS will be done as close to the installation site as possible but will require a deep-water port.  Due to the environmental and depth constrains the Morro Bay harbor will not be suitable for the assembly of the FOWSs.

Once in service, we expect the Castle Wind Offshore operations and maintenance personnel to live locally and work and service the project from nearby shore-based facilities. The Morro Bay harbor will be used as a staging port for the project operation and maintenance.

Will the birds and the marine life be affected by the project?

All large energy projects impact the environment to some extent. Floating offshore wind projects are among the most environmentally friendly in generating electricity from a renewable energy source.

The Castle Wind Offshore project site will be located over 30 nautical miles offshore from Point Estero in a 2600 to 3600 feet water depth.  In selecting the proposed site, Castle Wind sought to minimize impacts to migrating whales and other marine life through, for instance, siting the project outside of known whale migration corridors.  After obtaining a lease from BOEM, Castle Wind will be conducting site characterization and environmental impact studies as part of state and federal permitting requirements, such as the National Environmental Policy Act and the California Environmental Quality Act, among others.  These studies will provide data to establish environmental baseline information, and additional monitoring will continue throughout the life of the project.  Castle Wind has been engaged in conversations with BOEM, NOAA, environmental groups, and fishing groups to ensure that the selected site area avoids, minimizes and mitigates operational impacts.

How do offshore wind and fishing co-exist?

The Castle Wind Offshore project team has been engaged in dialogue with the Morro Bay Commercial Fishermen Organization (MBCFO) and the Port San Luis Commercial Fishermen Association (PSLCFA) since the project inception in mid 2015.  Based on information provided by the MBCFO and the PSLCFA, Castle Wind Offshore has endeavored to locate the project outside of major fishing grounds.  Castle Wind Offshore will continue to work with the local fishing groups, NOAA and others to ensure co-existence with other ocean activities in the area.

What is offshore wind?

Offshore wind is the wind resource available off the US coastline in the open ocean and the Great Lakes.  Offshore wind resources are abundant, strong and blow more consistently than most land-based wind. US Department of Energy (DOE) estimates that the technical resource potential accessible in state and federal waters along the coasts of the United States and the Great Lakes could be as high as 4,000 GW (http://energy.gov/eere/wind/wind-resource-assessment-and-characterization). While not all of this resource potential will be developed, the magnitude (approximately four times the combined generating capacity of all existing U.S. electric power plants) represents a substantial opportunity to generate clean and renewable electricity near coastal high-density population centers. (http://energy.gov/eere/wind/offshore-wind-research-and-development)

What is Castle Wind Offshore?

Castle Wind Offshore is a floating offshore wind farm that is planned to deliver 1,000 MW of clean, renewable energy to California.  On January 14, 2016, Trident Winds submitted an unsolicited lease request to the Bureau of Ocean Management stating its intent to lease the requested site area on the Outer Continental Shelf for the installation of approximately 100 floating offshore wind systems.

How large is the site area and is there an exclusion zone?

The size of the requested project site area is 106.17 sq mi (275.04 km2 or 67,962 ac).  The final site area will be significantly smaller and will be finalized following the completion of the detailed site characterization of geophysical, oceanographic, and seabed conditions. The final area for the wind farm will be approximately 55.58 sq mi (144 km2 or 35,582.40 ac).  There is no exclusion zone required on the offshore wind farm perimeter, but the area will prohibit commercial fish trawling and netting.

What technology will be used for the project?

All three top turbine suppliers – GE, Siemens and MHI-Vestas have commercially available offshore wind turbine generators (OWTGs) larger than 8 MW, with GE leading the industry with a 12 MW turbine.  A number of floating support structures are expected to be available for commercial use at the time of the project construction, estimated to be in the 2023 to 2025 time-frame.

The two examples of floating support structures are Equinor’s (formally Statoil) Hywind and Principle Power’s WindFloat.

Figure 1 – Hywind Prototype

Figure 2 – WindFloat Prototype

The Hywind, outfitted with Siemens 2.3MW OWTG, has been in operation since October 2009 (Figure 1) off the coast of Norway.  In October 2017, Equinor completed installation and commissioning of the Hywind SCOTLAND pilot park consisting of 5 OWTGs, 6MW each (https://www.equinor.com/en/what-we-do/new-energy-solutions/our-offshore-wind-projects.html).

The WindFloat (Figure 2), outfitted with Vestas V-80, 2MW OWTG, has been in operation since October 2011 off the coast of Portugal.  Principle Power is installing a 25MW project in Viana do Castelo, Portugal that will see deployment of 3 to 4 MHI-Vestas 8MW OWTGs in 2019 (https://www.4coffshore.com/windfarms/project-dates-for-windfloat-atlantic-(wfa)-pt03.html)

How do the floating offshore wind systems weather storms?

The floating offshore wind systems are designed to safely operate under the ocean conditions prevalent at the selected site.  Both prototypes, Statoil’s Hywind and Principle Power’s WindFloat have been successfully producing electricity since 2009 and 2011 respectively. Since their deployments, both systems have weathered and successfully performed in significant storm conditions.

How are the floating offshore wind systems secured to the ocean floor?

Floating support structures utilize multiple mooring lines and anchors to secure the structure to the ocean floor, similar in concept to a boat kept in place with a dropped anchor.

Will the wind farm be visible from shore?

The site location was selected to minimize its impacts on marine life, commercial fishing and its visibility from shore. Its L-shape configuration alters its distances from shore locations as follows:

  • 32.7 nmi – is the length of the cable that will carry generated electricity to the water outflow tunnel on the north side of Morro Rock.
  • 25.1 nmi to Pt. Estero
  • 33.6 nmi to Los Osos
  • 21.5 nmi to Cambria

The OWTG placed on either the Hywind or the WindFloat FOWS will be approximately 400 feet (120 m) above the sea level.  Based on the Coast Guard Light List volume Vi, Pacific Coast and Pacific Islands (http://www.navcen.uscg.gov/pdf/lightlists/lightlist%20v6.pdf) 400 feet tall structures will not be visible by an observer at the sea level at distances greater than 23.4 nmi.   The project’s navigational lights may be visible from certain shore vantage points on a very clear night.

When will Castle Wind Offshore be operational?

The Castle Wind Offshore targets to enter into commercial operation in the 2025-2027 time frame.

What are the economic benefits from the project?

An Economic Benefits study was conducted by Professor S. Hamilton at Cal Poly.  Use this link to see the summary of the study.

Who we are

Castle Wind LLC was established by companies with decades of experience in the electric power industry, project development, offshore wind projects operation and maintenance, and project financing.